A fan puts on a ‘vaccinated’ pin after receiving the Johnson & Johnson vaccine during an event sponsored by the California Department of Public Health to increase vaccine awareness at a Club America vs. Atlas FC soccer Match at PayPal Park on July 7, 2021 in San Jose. Photo by Anne Wernikoff, CalMatters

(CALMATTERS) – With many kids preparing to head back to school, it seems inevitable that the next front in California’s battle over vaccine mandates will center on teachers. On Tuesday, state Sen. Josh Becker, a Menlo Park Democrat, called on school districts to either require vaccinations for all staff before students return to campus or test them regularly for COVID-19 — the same framework that Newsom recently put in place for health care workers and state employees. San Jose Unified has already adopted such a policy, and Los Angeles Unified will require weekly testing for staff and students regardless of vaccination status. But the California Teachers Association said it would oppose a statewide vaccine mandate for its members.

From the beginning, CTA has strongly supported vaccines, along with multiple layers of safety protections — including masks, testing and physical distancing — as our primary and most important defense against COVID. We support the growing number of educators and local unions working with school districts to develop robust testing and vaccine verification policies.

Lisa Gardner, a CTA spokesperson

Another source of tension: state rules requiring all students and staff to wear masks indoors. Though many kids told the Los Angeles Times that wearing masks is almost “second nature” to them now, parents remain divided, with two advocacy groups recently suing Newsom over the school mask mandate. But proponents point out that risk remains: On Monday, two Bay Area school districts reported 23 coronavirus infections among students and staff, just days after in-person classes resumed.